- Labelling: allows the tracking of the garment during the different stages
- Pre-processing of tasks: takes away the hard tasks and initiates the chemical process of dry cleaning
- Detailed dry cleaning: removes greasy stains
- Removal of tasks, after washing: removes remaining stains
- Finishing (ironing, folding, etc.): prepares the garment for the customer
Doing laundry has been a common activity at home for years. Whether it’s beating clothes on rocks at the river’s edge or pushing buttons on programmed washing machines, this process depends on water and a mechanical action usually assisted by soap or alkali. The purpose of an alkali is to saponify oils and remove ordinary dirt and other materials. More often, the soapy agent keeps the dirt in suspension when it comes off during the wash cycle, then it is rinsed during the rinsing cycle and centrifugal spin.
The drying process to do the laundry at home is to hang the clothes on a clothesline or drop them in a dryer heated with gas or electricity.
Dry cleaning, on the other hand, is different. It’s a process that cleans clothes without water. The cleaning liquid used is a liquid, and all clothing is immersed and cleaned in a liquid solvent – the fact that there is no water is why the process is called “dry”. In this article, we’ll take a look behind the scenes of dry cleaning so you can understand what happens to your clothes after dropping them off at the cleaner!
Developments in dry cleaning
Like many inventions, dry cleaning is the product of chance. In 1855, Jean Baptiste Jolly, owner of a French dry cleaners, noticed that his tablecloth became cleaner after his maid accidentally knocked over an oil lamp. Through its dry-cleaning business, Jolly offers a new service called “dry cleaning”.
The first dry cleaners (some of which were already home cleaners) used a variety of solvents – including gasoline and kerosene – to clean clothing and fabrics. In the United States, the dry cleaning industry is relatively new and has developed only in the last 75 years. Since the end of the Second World War, volatile synthetic solvents carbon tetrachloride and trichloroethylene have been replaced by a product known as perchloroethylene (perc), which has become the choice of solvent par excellence for industry. It was not only safer and faster, but it was doing a much better job of cleaning, requiring less massive equipment, less floor space and could be installed in retail stores offering excellent quality one-hour service.
Thanks to this innovation, the majority of clothing is now cleaned in percentage. A proliferation of cleaning franchises and dry cleaning companies offering fast service from convenient, clean and attractive locations has evolved to transform the industry into what we see today.